The Big Three Consulting Firms: Who are They and What Sets Them Apart?

MBB stands for McKinsey, BCG and Bain, and these three firms are commonly referred to as the big three consulting firms. They are the largest and most prestigious strategic consulting firms in the world, and have a reputation for being highly academically focused. Former students of these firms include Mitt Romney, former candidate for president of the United States, and Meg Whitman, executive director of Hewlett-Packard. McKinsey & Company is proud of its diverse staff and offers paid summer internships for talented second-year students who want to enter the industry.

Their work is more varied than that of the four major consultants, who tend to do more repetitive work due to their specialization. Bain & Company was a pioneer in private equity consulting and the Bain Capital fund was founded by partners from Bain & Company and led by Mitt Romney. However, in the 1960s, competitors such as Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company began to compete with McKinsey by marketing specific branded products, such as the Growth-Share matrix, and selling their experience in the sector. In general, MBB consulting firms tend to have the most important clients, the most challenging and impactful projects, and the highest turnover rates.

McKinsey, BCG and Bain were among the first consulting firms created and have managed to create a virtuous circle that has protected them from competition until now. But what really sets MBB apart from other consulting firms? Most candidates who hire for Management Consulting choose MBB as their best option and expect to get only one offer from the three big consulting firms. Compared to other firms, Bain makes the least number of side hires, which are hires from other consulting firms. Bain consultants tend to travel less than other companies and often travel to nearby cities or states.

Consultants usually send research or slide design requests to teams in India in the evening and receive the finished work in the morning. The four great consultants who work in their counseling practice usually spend more than 6 to 12 months working for the same client and are therefore integrated into the client's organization, just like the client's employees. McKinsey and BCG consultants earn slightly more than Bain at younger levels, while Bain consultants earn slightly more at the partner level. So if you're interested in a career in business consulting, it's worth understanding what sets MBB apart from other consulting firms in order to successfully apply to the firm that suits you best.

Léo Poitevin
Léo Poitevin

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